It was the best of times; it was the worst of times… in the casino industry in the mid-1990s. Expansion had leaped out from Nevada and New Jersey into Iowa, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri and beyond. Gaming executives were scouring the plains in search of the next legal gaming jurisdiction. From quaint riverboats to remote Indian reservations, casinos were sprouting up and making millions of dollars a day.
It was the high tax rate that attracted states to the industry. A “sin” tax was a painless tax and state after state pursued the golden goose. Tribes understood there was an opportunity like no other and hired gaming experts to come in and advise them on how to operate.
But the bounty did not go unnoticed in Washington, D.C., however. Congressmen spouted moral outrage, but more likely were trying to figure out their way to the financial trough. Threats of federal taxation were thrown about, and a gaming industry that was used to going its own way in the wilds of Nevada and the beaches of Atlantic City suddenly realized that it must have a presence in the nation’s capital.
Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., who would later lead the effort to legitimatize gaming in front of Congress, explains why it was so difficult for the industry to grasp the importance of that fact.
“Raymond ‘Skip’ Avansino, who was then the president of Hilton Hotels, and who is one of my best friends, came to Washington one day. Hilton was having a board meeting at the Washington Hilton. After the meeting, he came by my law office. I told him that I had spent the entire morning up on Capitol Hill with one of our law firm clients, the American Pasta Association. He did a double take. And I said, ‘Yes, the people in this country who manufacture pasta have a trade association, and have lawyers and lobbyists who work with the ag committees in both the House and Senate, and the Department of Agriculture, to make sure the federal government doesn’t intentionally or unintentionally hurt them.’
“This was about the time that the riverboat revolution was taking place in the Midwest. And I said to Skip, ‘You guys have billions of dollars in capital investment in the ground in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, and now you’re putting millions into these riverboats and so forth. You’d better be smart and do what most other industries have done—create a trade association.’ So he went back and talked to Barron Hilton, and Barron called a meeting. He invited all the CEOs; everyone came. Barron made the proposal that they should create something, and everyone said, ‘Yeah, that’s a great idea.’ And then they all went back to competing against each other and nothing happened.”
It wasn’t until the Clinton administration floated a proposal that would impose a 4 percent federal excise tax on gross gaming revenues—all gaming revenues, casinos, parimutuel, lottery—that the industry woke up.
“I talked to President Clinton about it,” Fahrenkopf explains. “He told me that it really wasn’t his idea; it came out of the Treasury Department, and so it was dropped. But suddenly the idea that Baron Hilton had gotten from Skip Avansino started to take off, and before you know it, the decision was made to create what later became the American Gaming Association.”
Growing Up Cowboy
When it came to a leader for the new group, Fahrenkopf was the obvious choice. His political background combined with his experience in gaming was second to none.
Born in Brooklyn, Fahrenkopf’s parents moved to Reno in 1947, when was he was 8 years old. He describes it as a bit of a culture shock.
“I remember the first day of school,” he laughs. “Here I was a kid from Brooklyn. All I knew about the West was what I’d seen in movies, so I turned up with cowboy boots and a pair of Levi’s and a blue satin cowboy shirt, with pearl buttons, and I got the hell beat out of me. They pushed me down in a mud puddle; people didn’t dress that way. That’s the last time I wore that outfit, by the way. So yeah, it was a big change.”
Reno, at that time, was the center of the gaming industry, and growing up around casinos and gaming was normal, says Fahrenkopf.
“I just never really thought of it that way; it was just a way of life as I grew up, even when Vegas started to grow so quickly,” he says. “Gaming was just like any other business.”
Even though the gaming business included ex-gangsters who left other states for the legal setting of Nevada, Fahrenkopf says the founders of the industry were good people.
“I knew Bill Harrah very well,” he says. “And the Smith family ran Harold’s Club, which was the famous Reno casino in those days.
“But there were some notorious people, as well, in Reno. The ‘Purple Gang’ was famous for its Reno casinos. Vegas was that way early on, as well. I can remember in the early days, you would see greeters in clubs have a .45 tucked in their belt. That was the good old days.”
The good old days ended abruptly for Nevada, Fahrenkopf points out.
“That all changed, really, as a result of two people: Grant Sawyer, and Paul Laxalt,” he says. “They were governors back to back. They got away from licensing single individuals to run casinos, to allow corporations to come in. Howard Hughes came in and bought five hotels, and was really part of it.
“So the early days were pretty rough, but the advent of the public corporation being involved really was responsible for cleaning the industry up and making it just a regular business that has the problems and concerns and employees and health insurance—all the problems that a regular business has.”
At that time Fahrenkopf was working as an attorney in Las Vegas and, along with Mike Sloan, now an executive with Station Casinos, ended up representing Wayne Newton in the purchase of the Aladdin casino.
“The Aladdin had been shut down by the Gaming Control Board, led by a guy named Harry Reid, for its connections to the mob,” he explains. “But we were able to buy it and keep it clean.”
Fahrenkopf’s political career began in college when he was in law school at University of California Berkeley. It was the time of the “free speech movement,” when left-leaning students and professors began to dominate the headlines.
“I was so turned off by what I saw,” he says. “I didn’t think this was anything about free speech. It was left-wing radicals who were in charge of that. So when I came back from law school to Reno—I graduated from law school in 1965—I got involved in local politics.”
Fahrenkopf joined the Young Republicans, a powerful group in those days, along with their counterparts the Young Democrats.
“In 1970, I ran for national chairman of the Young Republicans,” he says. “I survived the big primary, and ended up against the guy who beat me, who became a very good friend of mine. His name is Don Sundquist; he went on to become a congressman, and later governor of Tennessee.”
Fahrenkopf then became general counsel of the Nevada Republican Party. In 1975, he was elected chairman of the Nevada Republican Party, and became the youngest member on the Republican National Committee, by about 20 years.
“It was during that period of time that, through Paul Laxalt, I had an opportunity to meet Ronald Reagan. Then-Governor Reagan and then-Senator Laxalt had worked together to save Lake Tahoe, to create what’s known as the Tahoe Regional Planning Association. And when the governor would come over to meet with Senator Laxalt, I had an opportunity to meet him, and that’s how I first got to know him.”
While Fahrenkopf worked for the election of Reagan as president in 1980, it wasn’t until the Republican Party took a shellacking in the ’82 mid-term elections that he was asked to join the party hierarchy.
“We had lost 26 seats in the House of Representatives that year,” he says, “and then the president asked me if I would take on the chairmanship of the party. I agreed to do it for a couple of years, and to do the ’84 re-election, and we won every state but one. And the president said, ‘Well, why don’t you finish this thing out with me?’ How could I say no?”
After the Reagan years, Fahrenkopf returned to private practice, joining a prestigious Washington law firm, Hogan & Hartson, where he worked on legal issues for the Howard Hughes Corporation among others.
In 1986, he co-founded the Commission on Presidential Debates, and has been the co-chairman of the organization since that time, overseeing the debates in every presidential race since 1988.
When first approached by the founders of the AGA, Fahrenkopf was reticent. Hilton’s Avansino was joined by Steve Wynn, then with Mirage Resorts, and Chuck Mathewson, chairman of IGT at the time, on a search committee, and they convinced him to throw his hat in the ring. They hired a headhunter firm that narrowed the choices down from more than 100 to just two: Fahrenkopf and a relative of former President George H.W. Bush.
“I was in Nevada giving a speech, and I was asked to meet with them,” says Fahrenkopf. “So I met with Steve, Chuck and Skip, and they said, ‘Look. You’re from Nevada; you know the business. You practiced before the Nevada Gaming Control Board and Commission; most of the guys know you. Do it for a year. Get us up and running.’ So I agreed to do it for a year. That was 17 years ago.”
Mathewson said it was Fahrenkopf’s attitude that convinced him.
“The other guy kept on asking us what we could do for him,” says Mathewson. “Frank kept telling us what he could do for us. It’s rare when you can meet a person and know immediately he was made for the job. But that was Frank.”
Both Mathewson and Avansino point out that Fahrenkopf took a cut in pay to accept the job of leading the AGA.
“He had a very successful law practice at Hogen & Hartson,” he says, “so it took some doing to pry him away from that. But he was the right person for the job and was very well received. Steve didn’t really know him very well, but after we all discussed it, let time go by, we all agreed that Frank was far and above the best applicant.”
Wynn says Fahrenkopf was one of 12 to 15 candidates with impressive resumés, but no one was even close.
“Frank Fahrenkopf was clearly the going-away best choice for the job when we were considering the nominations,” he says. “He was a steady personality, a reliable and candid guy. He had the kind of personal presence and trustworthiness that the tobacco guys didn’t have.
“Frank looks like a citizen. He was a really decent, credible man who could be the face of gaming for us in Washington. All three of us felt that was what we had, so the decision was really a lay-down hand; it was easy.”
Fahrenkopf says he spent the first few months organizing the association and making his first hire, Judy Patterson, who remains today the senior vice president of the organization. But Fahrenkopf barely had time to catch a breath before the first crisis hit.
“There was already a proposal in Congress to study the evils of gaming in America,” he says. “It was supported by the anti-gaming movement, but it was being pushed by two members of Congress who hated gaming. One was Frank Wolf, a Republican congressman from Virginia. The other was Senator Paul Simon, a Democrat from Illinois. And, so we immediately were faced with this challenge, and there were already 160 co-sponsors.”
What was to become the National Gambling Impact Study Commission (NGISC), a two-year process to study all forms of gambling in the United States, had already put the gaming industry behind the eight ball. If the anti-gaming members of Congress had their way, the commission members would all be virulently anti-gaming. They got one of their wish list for sure—Focus on the Family founder and conservative radio commentator James Dobson. So, it was Fahrenkopf’s job to balance out the opinions of people like Dobson with more rational, factual-based viewpoints.
“We were very, very fortunate with the help of Harry Reid, who was not yet the majority leader, but influential in the Democratic Party, and with Dick Gephardt, who was the Democrat minority leader in the House,” he explains. “Newt Gingrich was also helpful. And we were able to get Terry Lanni, from MGM, Bill Bible, who was then the chairman of the (Nevada) Gaming Control Board, and John Wilhelm, who was then chairman of the Culinary Union, on the commission.”
Along with Dobson, the other six members of the commission were anti-gaming, to varying degrees. The travel schedule—the places where the hearings would be held—often dictated what subjects would be covered, so Fahrenkopf said the AGA was quite prepared to offer testimony.
“They had to give notice of what topics were going to be discussed,” he explained. “We would offer witnesses, and in most cases, we didn’t really have a problem. We always were able to get witnesses scheduled, as well as demonstrate what gaming had done for a particular region. For example, at the meeting in Atlantic City, all the union people turned out in orange T-shirts and made sure that the commission heard how many jobs were produced and the quality of life for employees, and so forth; those were very important things.”
When the NGISC produced its report two years later, it was in fact quite complimentary about the effects of casinos on a community, saving its vitriol mostly for illegal gambling, lotteries and the looming specter of online gaming. Fahrenkopf believes the report wasn’t a case of the industry dodging a bullet.
“I think that we made our case,” he says. “It wasn’t dodging a bullet; there wasn’t a bullet to dodge in my opinion. We simply brought forth evidence that debunked some of what I call the old chivalrists who constantly complained about the industry. And you know, facts were stubborn things, and we produced the facts.”
Anyone in the gaming industry clearly understands that some people have a problem with gambling. When the AGA was started, Fahrenkopf knew he had to confront the issue of problem/pathological gambling or the industry would end up like the tobacco industry had: despised and vilified by Congress and the American people.
Fahrenkopf knew that he couldn’t allow that to happen, and the way to avoid it was to be proactive in understanding what causes those problems and how to treat them. But there was a paucity of credible research, except for a superficial federal study 20 years earlier. Fortunately, he knew who to turn to.
“As a lucky break, Phil Satre, long before the AGA was formed, when he was running Harrah’s, had attended a conference at Harvard that focused on youth gambling,” Fahrenkopf explains. “And leading the conference was Dr. Howard Shaffer of the Division of Addictions at Harvard. And once I agreed to do this, I said to Phil and the others that were around in the business and on the board, that we couldn’t make the mistake of the tobacco industry; we had to find out as much as we could about this malady.”
Fahrenkopf persuaded Shaffer to help organize studies into problem gambling. The response wasn’t completely positive. Fahrenkopf ran into opposition at every turn.
“It was a hard sell, with some members, on those studies,” he says. “So I reached out to Dr. Shaffer, and I met with him. We spent a couple hours together, and I indicated to him that we would—as an industry—financially support research and studies. I think he was a little afraid that we really wanted to control what he was doing, and it wouldn’t be fair and balanced. I told him he had total control. But of course, I was afraid too. I didn’t know—no one really knew—what the results were going to be as to the prevalence rate. But we trusted each other; we developed a good, warm relationship, and he began his work.”
Funding was going to be an issue, but at just about the same time, the state of Missouri was requiring casino operators there to put money away for responsible gaming. Boyd Gaming took the lead.
“Bill Boyd was the first,” he says. “Bill Boyd stepped up and wrote the first check, and then other members wrote checks, and we created the National Center for Responsible Gaming. For the first year and a half, we were headquartered in Kansas City. Later we moved to Boston, where Harvard is, and the work began to bear fruit. Even today, the anti-gaming movement in this country—the responsible anti-gaming folks, anyway—will say they had doubts about it at the beginning, but it is today the world-acclaimed funding source of peer-reviewed research on responsible gaming.”
Show of Shows
With so much on his plate, Fahrenkopf barely had time to consider what is standard practice in other industries when it came to trade shows and exhibitions. In the gaming industry at that time, the World Gaming Congress, run by a now-defunct magazine, held the dominant position, but several other shows had sprung up around the country bidding for the dollars of gaming exhibitors, with little regard for the good of the industry. Fahrenkopf decided to approach the World Gaming Congress and ask for a piece of the action.
“The people who were exhibiting their wares at the shows were mostly our members,” he said. “And the people who are buying at these shows are our members. And why are these shows making the money? We did some research and found that an overwhelming majority of trade associations in the country do their own shows. But we were immediately hit with the necessity of defending against this gambling commission, so I sat down with the people at World Gaming. We worked out a five-year agreement. I think the first year we got something like $500,000, and then it went up in increments over the next four years, with the understanding that we would help organize the educational part of the show—the seminars and keynote sessions. That was our contribution.”
After the contract was up, Fahrenkopf said the AGA would have been happy with negotiating a 50-50 partnership with the WGC.
“But we ran into a stone wall,” he says. “They would not even show us the financial records, even though they were obligated to. So, I brought in a special committee consisting of the major manufacturers of the time. And we decided to start our own show. We put out a request for proposal. We got several responses, but when the folks at Reed Exhibitions came in, they impressed us the most because they asked what we wanted to make on this. And we said at least a million dollars a year. So they deposited $6 million in the bank, and we were covered for six years, under these circumstances. So we went with Reed, and the first year we did our show, and the other folks did their show, but clearly—it was very, very clear—they were not going to survive.
“So we sat down with them the next year, and it was almost like a mercy killing. We gave them a little something so they could save face, and that was the end of it, and G2E was born.”
The motto of the Global Gaming Expo—by the industry, for the industry—says it all, according to Fahrenkopf.
“G2E is the biggest trade show and conference in the industry,” he says. “We listen to the exhibitors—large and small—and the operators, so it’s a great platform to get our products and information out. And of course, now we’re doing it in Asia too, with the 7th edition of G2E Asia being held this month.”
The growth of American gaming companies has spread far beyond U.S. borders, with three U.S. companies playing a significant role in the Macau gaming industry. Fahrenkopf says the AGA has tried to help the Asian gaming industry develop.
“I remember I went there in 2000 or ’01 to speak at a conference,” he says. “There were about 40 people in attendance, and I told them if they were really interested in attracting U.S. companies, that they just had to be transparent and that their bank laws had to be modified. I suggested to them that they had to go to New Jersey and Nevada to meet with regulators in those states, and they did. Eventually the decision was made to put the licenses up for bid.”
Macau’s history of corruption and violence connected to its casino industry when it was a Portuguese protectorate was worrisome to the AGA, but Fahrenkopf says he knew the U.S. companies weren’t going to apply if they couldn’t be assured that things were changing.
“They don’t want to jeopardize their licenses by making a mistake going somewhere abroad and doing something there that would be illegal in the United States,” he says. “You could lose your franchise in the states.”
Fahrenkopf says that Macau is now headed in the right direction.
“Does that mean there are no problems there? I don’t think so; I don’t think anyone would say that,” he says. “But it’s a whole different system. We’ve been over there now for almost 10 years, and while there are ongoing lawsuits and allegations, the casinos are doing quite well. So we’ll have to see. But I think it’s been extremely positive.”
One of Fahrenkopf’s regrets was the failure to get Congress to even consider a bill to legalize online poker over the last few years, a position that had been fluid at the AGA throughout its history. He explains why that changed.
“The first time we established a position on internet gaming was about 10 or 12 years ago,” he says. “And the position, which I have said maybe 10 million times—I hear it in my dreams—was, ‘The American Gaming Association is opposed to all forms of internet gaming, because we do not believe the technology exists to properly regulate it with appropriate law enforcement oversight.’ That was fundamentally our position, because that’s what our regulators’ position was. They—New Jersey, Nevada, Mississippi, Illinois and others—were concerned about how to regulate internet gaming when they already had so much to regulate.
“As an organization, we slowly started to change. About two years before we actually changed our position formally, we formed some working committees, to take a look at, number one, whether or not you really could control, be sure the person was where they said they were. Geo-location helped with that sort of thing. But an important question was, would it cannibalize existing brick-and-mortar companies?
“And we reached the conclusion it really wouldn’t. When we looked at the demographics of the people who were gambling online at that time—now, this is four or five years ago—they tended to be young men, more highly educated, more highly compensated, and ones who didn’t regularly go to casinos. So we reached the conclusion that rather than cannibalizing brick-and-mortar casinos, it would probably be a new profit center.”
Convincing Congress would prove to be more difficult. The AGA argument was simple.
“If you didn’t do anything, and this thing continued to grow, Americans would be playing all kinds of casino games, so why not allow poker?” says Fahrenkopf. “There’s a poker tradition and culture in America going back to the early days, so it is perceived to be different than the other games. So we changed our position to be supportive of that. We worked very, very hard for four years with Senator (Harry) Reid and Senator (Jon) Kyl, who fundamentally were the leaders of the effort.
“That was a big disappointment to us. It was clearly outside our control, and this was not only the AGA, but some companies that were not in the AGA, who spent a lot of time and effort and money in support of trying to get the two senators to do something. We didn’t even get a chance to get a bill and go out and try to sell the bill. So that was clearly a disappointment.”
But even with his departure, Fahrenkopf says the AGA will continue to push for federal legislation on internet poker.
“Senator Reid says that it’s still on the top of agenda,” he says. “Senator Kyl is now retired. I have talked to Congressman (Joe) Barton, and we had the congressman out here in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. He’s met with some of our people. I believe that when he finishes his due diligence in the House, he may be introducing a poker bill, which hopefully we can support, and we’ll just have to see where it goes.”
Fahrenkopf says the AGA would clearly prefer a federal bill over the state-by-state legalization that is currently under way. He says that the AGA wouldn’t interfere in that process unless it includes some of the “bad actors” that were indicted during the “Black Friday” April 2011 indictments or subsequent charges. The AGA board issued a request to intervene in the PokerStars licensing in New Jersey. He denies that Caesars Entertainment was the prime mover behind this policy, as critics have said.
“We don’t do anything with one company,” he insists. “Our board, I believe, was unanimous with one abstention—someone missed the meeting—that the brief should be filed. I can’t comment on the details of it because it’s ongoing, but this was not something that was Caesars-generated. Our board is not only made up of operators, but manufacturers. So we felt it was something that we should do.
“But our main concern with what’s going on in the states, as I said some time ago, before any of the states had adopted legalization, was that if there was no federal action, then we would have a patchwork quilt. Already with three states, if you look at those, it’s a patchwork quilt: Delaware includes all casino games, not just poker. It will be run by their state lottery organization. New Jersey is also all casino games, but operated by the Atlantic City casinos. And Nevada is poker only, although the governor has been given authority to enter in new interstate compacts with other states to increase the liquidity pool.
“So we continue to hope that federal legislation will come in. But there are a lot of states looking at this, and we’ll go forward without it. And I’ve said, if there is no federal legislation, I believe the net result will be that we’ll have the largest expansion of legal gaming in the history of the United States, over the next couple of years.”
When looking back, Fahrenkopf points to the improved image of the industry during his time at AGA as one of his proudest accomplishments.
“The reputation of the gaming industry in the mid-’90s was not the best in the world,” he explains, “particularly among legislators, both in Congress and in state legislatures. And to see where we are today, with more and more states taking part in the industry in one way or another… I think over 18 years, that we’ve done a pretty good job of raising the intelligence level of the American people that we are a really important industry, that we provide great jobs and benefits for our employees, that we produce other jobs that are created by what we do, with restaurants and other means. We pay a heck of a lot of taxes, because it’s a privilege to be in our business, not a right. And we’re good corporate citizens.
“Now we know, from the polling that we do, that there’s a rock-hard 15 percent of the public who are opposed to all forms of gambling. The other 85 percent have no problem with gambling for themselves or others. And most of that 15 percent of people hold their views because of their religious or moral perceptions. So you have to respect that.”
Fahrenkopf says that even the mainstream media is coming around.
“A couple of months ago, there was a front-page story on the Sunday Washington Post, which has been the most vehement anti-gaming newspaper in the country,” he says. “I don’t know how many times I’ve gone before their editorial board, and never could make a nick in the opposition. So this front-page story talked about all the jobs being produced in Maryland casinos, and the training of people who’d been out of work, and the kind of jobs they were getting, the benefits that were offered.
“And we just looked at each other in the office, and said, ‘Wow. Things have really changed.'”
“Frank represented our industry with class and dignity and the perception of our business changed for the better because of it. I’m proud to call him friend and wish him every success in his future endeavors.”
—Sheldon G. Adelson, Chairman and CEO, Las Vegas Sands
“Frank has been a tremendous leader for the AGA as an organization and for the gaming industry at home and around the world. He has been a tireless champion, always moving the business forward. And still, with all of his duties and responsibilities, he always found time to be a mentor and friend to me. I will always appreciate that.”
—Aki Isoi, JCM Global President
“Frank has been both a thoughtful and dynamic leader through a period of great change for our industry. He is widely respected in Washington DC and has been the face of our industry for 17 years. Through his genuine care for people and love of our industry Frank did the right things to build our industry’s reputation for integrity, to lead initiatives for responsible gaming and women in gaming, and to ensure our industry had balanced representation as both a great source of employment and a great source of entertainment. Today gaming is recognized as a vital part of the global economy in no small part due to his strong leadership and tireless efforts.”
—Bally Technologies Chairman of the Board Richard Haddrill
“Frank, for the tremendous impact you have had on the gaming industry, I thank you. Without your tireless efforts, gaming would have a very different face than it does today. Through your leadership all of those involved in this industry have had the ability to truly make a difference in our communities and in the way we do business as a whole. Your work has made corporate social responsibility and responsible gaming efforts a standard. My many commendations on being a force of change and for being a leader who we can all only aspire to be.”
—Patti Hart, President & CEO, IGT
“Frank is in a class all of his own. He is intelligent, powerful and charming. He has been wonderful to me and I regard him as a true mentor.”
—Gavin Isaacs, President & CEO, SHFL entertainment
“AGEM and our members really started to work closely with Frank and the AGA when G2E launched in 2000 and it’s been a great relationship and partnership ever since. Frank’s guidance has improved the gaming industry on many levels over the years and we’re sorry to see him go while celebrating the conclusion of the greatest of careers. The foundation he set down in Washington will continue to serve us well in his retirement.”
—Tom Jingoli, President, American Gaming Equipment Manufacturers
“Frank Fahrenkopf has led the AGA with unique understanding of both federal politics and the gaming industry. He has established our association as the voice of a dynamic and controversial industry, and done so with integrity, grace and consistent focus.”
—Gary Loveman, Chairman, President and CEO, Caesars Entertainment Corp.
“During a time when the image and success of the gaming industry was struggling, Frank founded the American Gaming Association, provided leadership and vision during challenging times and was instrumental in making the gaming industry the thriving sector of the U.S. economy that it is today. For example, when the industry was under scrutiny by the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, Frank and his team provided information and testimony that refuted concerns and enhanced the image of the gaming industry. Under Frank’s tenure, AGA operated the two most successful gaming conferences in the world, established the National Center for Responsible Gaming to combat gambling addiction and founded Global Gaming Women to address issues unique to women in the industry and to mentor and foster future industry leaders.”
—James Maida, President & CEO, GLI
“I have had the privilege of working with Frank for his entire tenure with the American Gaming Association. We could not have selected a better professional to lead us through the challenges the industry faced at the time, and his strong political skills and significant relationships on Capitol Hill helped to shape gaming as it exists today. Whether it was the creation of the National Center for Responsible Gaming, the development of the Gaming Code of Conduct, or taking the lead on legislative issues that could potentially impact the industry, Frank skillfully provided the guidance necessary for the AGA to take the lead on issues ranging from responsible gaming, to corporate social responsibility to regulatory reform. Commercial casino gaming now generates billions of dollars of tax revenues per year in the United States; directly and indirectly employs a workforce of hundreds of thousands, and is a significant contributor to our nation’s economy. He will be missed, but he provided a strong platform for the industry to continue to grow in the future.”
—Virginia McDowell, President & CEO, Isle of Capri Casino Corp.
“Frank has been instrumental in representing, and promoting the gaming industry through his long term vision and his steady hand of leadership.”
—James Murren, Chairman & CEO, MGM Resorts International
“Frank Fahrenkopf Jr. was the perfect choice for our first president. He understood gaming and it’s issues, as a Nevada Attorney representing casino industry clients. He had a national presence, as a chairman of the National Republican Committee. And as a big plus, he lived in Washington, D.C., where federal gaming legislation was the industry’s greatest concern.”
—Steve Norton, industry consultant and original board member of AGA
“Frank is a true gentleman who has served the American Gaming Association and its members in a professional and admirable manner. Frank’s astute diplomacy in a variety of situations has contributed to the positive advancement of the gaming industry.“
—Anthony Sanfilippo, President & CEO, Pinnacle Entertainment
“Frank Fahrenkopf’s impact on the gaming industry has been profound. His tireless work as a spokesman and advocate for the gaming industry greatly increased public understanding and awareness of casino gaming, helping pave the way for our industry’s growth and success. We are enormously grateful to Frank for his contributions, and proud to call him our colleague and friend.”
—Keith Smith, President, Boyd Gaming
“Frank has played a major role in the development and expansion of the gaming business throughout the world. His leadership and skills have defined an industry that was so misunderstood in the past. He promoted the idea of responsible gaming and that the gambling industry was not a net ‘taker’ from the economy of a state or a country, but a powerful tool in economic development. It was Frank who defined the taxes paid, the employees hired and the vast contributions this industry made to charitable entities. Frank and the AGA created an industry. During Frank’s term there were more new gaming jurisdictions and casinos opened than in the previous 100 years. The new jurisdictions defined gaming and the integrated resort. Many people believe Steve or Sheldon built our industry but I know that it was Frank and the AGA who defined a business that became a desirable part of many states and countries. Without these licenses our gaming giants would be a fraction of their size and many businesses like mine would have never seen the successes they have. All of the companies who participate in the gaming business thank Frank and his family. We are all very proud that he represented and defined our business.”
—Paul Steelman, CEO, Steelman Partners